Soccer and the Bavarian Sports Club
The Early Years!
The Bavarian Sports Club was formed as a soccer club in 1930 by a group of fourteen men that wished to continue the sport that they played in their native country before immigrating to the United States. These founding members of the club predominately came from the Bavarian State of Germany or traced their ancestry to that area in Germany. Money was pledged and a clubhouse was purchased. The clubhouse, which is located at the corner of Lagrange and Moore streets, has been a stable fixture in the Lagrange Street community since about 1934. It was also about that time in the 30's that John Waldmanstaetter joined the club and formed the widely known "Holzhackerbuam" Schuhplattler dance group.
The first president was Ludwig Antersberger; other officers were Joseph Viertlbeck and Max Dorfmeister. Some of the other known members and players were: Mike Stockner, George Schloegl, Karl Geiger, John and Karl Pankratz, Frank and Joe Petersberger, Frank Baumgartner, Hank and Frank Lang, Bill Hauser, John Eisenreich, Karl Huber, Max Beham, and John Gerstl.
Know players from left:
4th George (Hausel) Schloegl,
5th Frank Baumgartner,
10th Karl Huber,
11th Frank Petersberger
The new team joined the original Toledo District Soccer League, which was founded in the mid 1920's. The clubs that made up the league at that time were Irish Shamrocks, the German A and German B teams (Turners), the Hungarians and the Ideal Ramblers (Scotch and German). Well known players of that era from various teams were Irwin Rhein (German A goalkeeper), Willie Aye, Karl Sperber, Walter Bertz, Gus Standinger, Otto Werner, Harry Lukman, Willie Abel, Willie Parker, Charlie Bloom, and Irish goalkeeper Cal Watermelon. Gus Mancey of the now famous Mancey restaurants sponsored the Ideal Ramblers. Some of their players were Willie and Bobby Carson, William Schmitz Sr. and Jack Tabner, the father of Toledo sportscasters Doug and Oris Tabner.
An interesting but tragic event occurred to Willie Able during a Willys Overland Plant strike. A near riot occurred and shots were fired. Willie was hit in the leg by a stray bullet which curtailed his playing ability. I am happy to say though that as of this writing, Willie is 97 years old and still active in the GAF senior's society.
Bavarian players that came on the scene somewhat later were Karl Novak, Augie (Red) and Johnny Schurfeld, Joe, Frank and Don Viertlbeck, Wally and Rudy Beham, Frank and Hank Lang, Sonny Liebeck, Paul Heiss, and Syd Hansen. The two Sarno brothers, Al and Jim signed on with the Bavarians as reserve players in 1938 at the tender ages of 13 and 12. Their father was one of the early Toledo District Soccer League presidents and was a player with the Ideal Ramblers.
Top row left to right: Karl Huber, George (Hausel) Schloegl, John Eisenreich, Frank Lang, Hank Lang, ?, ?, Frank Petersberger, Bill Hauser', Ludwig Antersberger. Bottom row left to right:?, ?, Karl Geiger
As a result of WWII the Toledo league folded in 1941. Yet, The Bavarians held together through 1944 for occasional exhibition games against other German clubs which included the Fort Wayne Sports Club, Chicago Hansa with former Irish international Jimmy McDermott, Chicago Schwaben, Detroit Bavarians, Detroit Pioneer Kickers, and Cleveland Bartunecks.
With the return of the men from the war the Bavarians reorganized in 1946 under Mike Stockner and with the Sarno brothers. The team affiliated with the Detroit Soccer League and played in the 2nd division. The Bavarians were widely known for their good sportsmanship and hospitality but their talent was not deep enough for advancement in the Detroit League. Team Manager Mike Stockner preferred to draw his players from the club membership rather then recruit from the outside. This caused some players, notably the Sarno brothers along with goalkeeper Frank Arbinger to break with the team and form the Jerry Leon Soccer Club. This club was later taken in by Bill Schmitz as his Alexis Florist club and eventually became the Toledo Turners soccer team. Fritz Bertz came on the scene n 1947 and was later joined by brother Herb. Frank Arbinger, at 6'2" tall, was a Woodward High School basketball standout with good hands who converted over to soccer goalkeeper and developed to a level to where he was noticed by touring European teams. Unfortunately Frank was struck by an incurable disease and passed away as a young man. Frank's son, Rich Arbinger, carried on in sports and is the very successful coach of the Start High School baseball team.
One of the highlights of that era was a six-aside soccer tournament at Detroit's Jayne Field with 26 Detroit area teams participating. While only one player of the Bavarian team is known, and that was Sonny Liebeck, the other Toledo entry, Jerry Leon Soccer Club, included Jim and Al Sarno, Bill Schmitz Sr., Bob Maghee, Tony Martino, and Frank Arbinger. The two teams played in separate divisions and managed to beat all other to face each other in the finals. The contest was hard fought as one might imagine. With four minutes left, Bavarians sent a high shot on goal that the keeper Frank Arbinger caught. At the same instant Sonny Liebeck, known for his aggressive play, crashed into the keeper and jarred the ball loose and into the net for the Bavarian win. In those days, charging the goalkeeper fairly, while in possession of the ball, was a legal play.
The Middle Years
During the time span of 1949 through the early fifties this region's soccer events were dominated by the Toledo Turners under manager Bill Schmitz. The Turner team, whose players consisted of local as well as imports from Cleveland, Detroit, and Windsor had advanced to the national quarter and semifinals of the open and amateur cups for four years in a row and also hosted some European teams, notably Eintracht Frankfurt of Germany in 1951 and Liverpool of England in 1953. After those successful years the Turners started to unravel. Some of the local players became dissatisfied under the conditions where imports received favorable treatments and bolted the team. Key players, Frank Arbinger and Fritz Bertz went to the Bavarians and reorganized that team under manager John Gerstl. In 1957 Jim Sarno, along with three of the Cleveland legionnaires went to play for a Cleveland team. The following year Bill Schmitz became gravely ill and the team disbanded.
Early 1950’s. From left to right, top row: (?), Herb Bertz, Fritz Bertz, Karl Heinz Otterson, Karl Nowak, Dick Schurfeld. Bottom row: George (Bushi) Striedel, Toni Martino, Frank Arbinger, Sam Casartano, (?), Al Sarno
One of the more memorable games of that time, some say of the century, was when the reorganized Bavarians, whose team was made up of local players, including a good number of former Turners, faced off against Turner's imports. It is said that by game time about 1000 enthusiastic fans had circled the field. Play was intense with Turners have the talent and Bavarians having the grit. Defense ruled the play with Frank Arbinger, Fritz Bertz and Dick Schurfeld anchoring Bavarians. Hughey Jack was a rock hard sweeper for the Turners who turned every attack away. Seeing that the game was not going his way Turner's manager Bill Schmitz moved Hughey Jack to a forward position to improve his team's scoring chances. Bavarians quickly seized the opportunity of the weakened Turner's defense to slip through the defense and score to come away with a 2 to 1 win. Dick Schurfeld had earlier bet some Turners players a keg of beer for the win, the brew was later shared and enjoyed by players and guest alike at the Bavarian Club.
Soccer for the Bavarian Sports Club in the mid to late 1950's was energized by the switch of Frank Arbinger, Fritz and Herb Bertz and others from the Turners to the Bavarians. Other leading players at that time were Dick Schurfeld, Sonny Liebeck, Karl Heinz Otterson. Karl Nowak, Herman Kohler, Ernest Steinfeld, Louie Maier, Polish Joe, and Toni Martino. Later Al Sarno returned and newcomers Heinz Otto, Willie Katz, Flilip Jovanovic and Ernest Mueller joined the team. Also young players Wilfried Schubert and Iggy Linzmeier joined the team in the mid fifties. Following the Hungarian revolution in 1957, many Hungarian players came on the local scene further strengthening the Bavarians. The most talented of which was Gyula Deri who eas known for his fierce shot and good headball play.
As more Hungarians came to Toledo they broke away from Bavarians and formed two teams of their own. The stronger St. Stevens team lasted several years and built a strong rivalry with the Bavarians but the weaker Kossuth team passed into history after a couple of years. The loss of Hungarian players from the Bavarians was quickly filled with other European players from players of the second Bavarian team. Most notable British players were Billy Chappel who played a tough and smart sweeper position and the now Irash musician John Connelly. Horst and Dell Skentrowica, Dieter Timm, Werner Dumkow, Willi Katz, and Guenther Klose came from Germany. Players elevated from the second team were Brian Goldsmith, Ewald Gatzke and Matt Welker. Although Bavarians by now had a powerful team, the competition kept pace and titles were always an elusive one game away.
1960 Detroit League
2nd Division Champions
Top row left to right: CR, Berry Metter, Brian Goldsmith, Tony Linzmeier, Aed Dudar, and Dave Fleishman; Bottom row left to right: Brian Fleishman, ?, Troy Clark, Max Goldsmith, Mark Hardy, ?; Not pictured are: Eric and Kurt Necker and Greg Martin
In 1960 Bavarians finally won the Michigan League second division championship. The final and determining game was played in Detroit against Detroit Victoria (later Kickers) on a cold and rainy fall day late in the year. A bus was chartered and local fans provided support. It was a see-saw contest with neither team yielding ground. Bavarians caught a break when two Victoria defenders collided and had to be taken to the hospital. Still Victoria held until close to the end of the game when Werner Dumkow was able to place a low shot inside the left goal post for a 1 to 0 win. In 1961 the team was elevated to the Detroit first division and promptly claimed that championship with a remarkable 50 plus goal for 4 goals against season. During those years competition was tough as Bavarians played some of the leading teams out of Detroit, Windsor, Chicago, Cleveland, and perpetual rival Fort Wayne Sports Club.
1960 to Present
Those of us that started to play for the Bavarians in the later 50's played on one of two teams, the first and the second with the better players playing on the first team. At that time there was intense competition at practice to make one of the teams and to move up to the first team. For a while there were so many injuries at practice that players stopped wearing hardened soccer shoe of the time and wore tennis shoes. Our leader was Fritz Bertz and the trainer was Fritz Hetzel. Our mentors form the club were long time members John Gerstl and Mike Stockner. During that time our Hungarian born players along with some others broke away from the Bavarian teams to form two teams of their own. They were the St. Stephen's team and the Kossuth team. While the Kossuth team folded after two tears, the St. Stephen's team remained strong and is the the forerunner of the existing Hungarian Club team. An intense but friendly rivalry has always existed between the Hungarian and Bavarian teams and continuous throughout this day. In 1960 Bavarians won the Greater Detroit League second division championship and in 1961 followed by winning the first division championship.
Those prosperous times were followed by lean years through the Vietnam War era. Often road trips were made with fewer than 11 players. In one way or another the team stuck it out and made it through. The youth soccer movement was starting to take hold at that time and Fritz Bertz was bringing along a fine group of young players, that also included his son Fritz, Franz Linzmeier, John Welker, Art Marquart, Dick Green, Stan Surret, Ray Baker, Brent Ritter, and others. With the exception of Maumee Valley Contry Day School there were no other youth teams in the area so this young team also had to travel to Detroit for games.
In the 1960's Jim Sarno along with Herm Kander laid the groundwork for the reinstatement of the Toledo District Soccer League. The Bavarians, with player/manager Filip Jovanovic and the influx of younger players, however struck out on their own and joined the Ohio Indiana Soccer League consisting of teams from Columbus, Cincinnati, Dayton, Fort Wayne, and Indianapolis. The extended travel schedule, especially before modern expressways, took their toll on the players and by 1970 the Bavarians terminated operations in this league to join the Toledo league.
At this point in time the team had matured and fielded a powerful lineup of experienced players. The Achilles heel for the time were the divisive policies pursued by then manger Peter Semenauer who aggressively pursued a course of relegating the older players out of the team in favor of youth. This controversial stance caused one of the staunchest members of the team, Ewald "Mickey" Gatzke, to leave the team and join the Hungarians. These events were disturbing to the close knit group of players. The good that came from the move was that the Hungarians were strengthened and Mickey, as their coach and manager, has maintained a strong and competitive team to the present day.
Top row left to right: Dick Green, Dave Fairclough, Franz Linzmeier, Rod Shirk, Lazslo Koltay, Brian Goldsmith, Bob Schuler, and Pauli Jovanovic; Bottom row left to right: Albert Wurster, Heinz Necker, Ewald Gatzke, Bob Budde, Wilfred Schubert, Jim Barker, and Bruce Ballentine
In the mid to late 70's, after having played a few years in the local league the desire for better grade competition again caused the Bavarians to return to one of the higher Detroit area leagues. A second team consisting of younger players continued to play the Toledo league. A talented Scotch player, Bruce Ballentine, manager the first team at that time. Bruce attracted a number of English and Irish players for the challenges of playing in this very competitive Detroit league. In time though it became more difficult to match local talent with the large ethnic player pool available to the Detroit teams. As a result participation in the Detroit league was ended and the remaining players merged with the younger team to compete successfully in the Toledo league into the mid 1990's.
From the early 1980's through the early 1990's Iggy Linzmeier, Brian Goldsmith, and Wilfried Schubert coached the younger teams bringing along their sons Tony Linzmeier, Max Goldsmith, and Chris Schubert. The player pool consisted largely of players from Whitmer High School whose team was coached by Dick Green and assisted by Ian Martin and Iggy Linzmeier. Notable amongst the players was Whitmer Hall of Famer Tony Linzmeier and also included Troy Clark, Rob Wiersinski, Bob Budde, the Fleischman brothers Dave and Brian, Pat Early and Greg Martin. Strength and experience was added through players from Bowling Green State University. During that time period the Bavarian team amassed three first places and four second place finishes in the Greater Toledo League.
1959/1960. From Left to right. Top row: Fritz Bertz (manager), Albert Wurster, Guenter Klose, Dieter Timm, Horst Skentrowicz, Bill Chappel, Iggy Linzmeier, Fritz Hetzel (Trainer). Bottom row: Werner Dumkow, Heinz Necker, Matt Welker, Wilfried Schubert, Ewald (Mickey) Gatzke.
These prosperous times were followed by a period in which there was a declining leadership and interest among the players as well as a vacuum in managing and coaching which eventually led to the disbanding of the Under 30's team in the mid 90's. This is in stark contrast to the rapid growth of soccer in the suburbs, where new teams flourish. However it is not unlike the experiences of other ethnic clubs in larger cities.
In the early 1980's the Bavarians formed an "Over 30's" team for those players that wanted to continue to play but at less competitive level. Originally Matt Welker arranged games with teams from Dayton, Fort Wayne, Columbus, Cleveland and the Detroit area. The games still provided a fair amount of competition but more importantly and in the spirit of the concept provided great camaraderie and fellowship after the games. Since the Toledo Over 30 League was formed Ewald "Mickey" Gatzke has been leading this team through many successful seasons. As some of these players aged, an "Over 40's" team was added. Mike Willinger and Laszlo Szabo have been shepherding this group through the last several seasons.
Over 30 Team in 1982. Top row left to right: Hans Boehm, Matt Welker, Rod Shirk, Frank Sipos, Brian Carnes, Brian Goldsmith, Jim Klawig, Ed McCarrol, Ian Martin, Winfred Shubert; Bottom row left to right: Mike, Ewald Gatzke, Bob Schuler, Herman Schut, Alex Vinicicky
In the 2001 season the Bavarian Sports Club was again able to compete in the Greater Toledo Soccer League with an enthusiastic group of less than 20 year old players coached an managed by Larry Hanudel. This team surpassed all expectations by winning the league championship in their first season with seven wins and three losses. This was an exciting team to watch.
2001 Men's Open League Champions. Top row left to right: Chris Soltis, Matt Kovach, Steve Horvath, Ryan Valle, Jeremy Cervenec, Matt Richards, Frank Pallitta and Coach Larry Hanudel; Bottom row left to right: Aaron Hughes, John Cromly, Phil Konzal, Brian Hanudel, Chris Hanudel, Jon Loo and Steve Kujawa; Not Pictured: Josh Bates, Brad Bigelow, Jeremy Cousino, Jayme Cox, Nick Duricek and Ben Hoff
Practice is held on Wednesday evenings at Oak Shade Grove on Seaman Road in Oregon. After practice players typically travel to the clubhouse located at 2102 Lagrange Street for refreshment and to socialize. During winter months the players gather at the club on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month at 7:30 PM. Having a place to meet and to fraternize has undoubtedly seen the Bavarian teams through the good and bad time and hopefully will serve as a vehicle for continuation of the teams for many years to come.
Appreciation to Sens Schloegl, Fritz Bertz and Jim Sarno for their input into this history. A special Thanks goes to Matt Welker whose spent the time to write this history.
We are currently looking to rebuild our Soccer Program which has dwindled recently. If you have a Team looking for a HOME, give us a call or an e-mail and let's see what we can do for each other!